MIAMI — Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways unveiled Etihad Airways Partners on October 8, an alliance of six airlines formed to offer passengers improved networks and schedules and enhanced frequent flyer benefits. The initial six airlines in the new scheme are airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, India’s Jet Airways, Darwin Airline and Etihad.
Any airline can join the new Etihad partnership program, even if it currently belongs to an existing alliance, which the case of oneworld member airberlin. “We began the Etihad Airways Partners program with select equity partners, which made perfect sense as we are a like-minded group sharing the same vision and values: to compete with traditional airline alliances – of which Etihad Airways Partners is not,” said a company spokeswoman.
Etihad Airways Partners was created because the carrier saw both a need and an opportunity to broaden its business model in a unique and non-traditional way, said the spokeswoman. “[The partnership] articulates and defines a proposition for like-minded airlines which will result in greater efficiencies for participating airlines on the one side, and enhanced network choice, service and frequent flyer benefits for consumers on the other,” she said.
It would be wrong to describe Etihad Airways Partners as similar to the traditional alliances, said the spokeswoman. “Etihad Airways Partners are working together to improve our competitive offer against the traditional global alliances and the major legacy carriers,” she said. “However, the depth of our equity relationships allows us to go further than the long-established global alliances, from greater network alignment which maximizes flight connectivity to a significantly stronger frequent flyer offering based on investment in partner loyalty programs.”
Frequent flyers will benefit from the formation of Etihad Airways Partners as it will remove the complexity and confusion that exists within the global alliances. Those flying on the partner airlines will get a consistent experience and framework for earning and using their miles, including standardized mileage and tier benefits, no blackout periods and priority services.
Etihad Airways Partners will also have access to economies of scale and operational synergies such as centers of excellence, shared sales teams in certain destinations, joint procurement of services and supplies, and shared pilot and cabin crew training at the Etihad Airways facilities in Abu Dhabi.
The partners program also has a logo that will serve as a seal of excellence and global cooperation. “It will be displayed on aircraft and on branded materials by a group of airlines working together to connect travelers around the world, and increasingly to harmonize standards in the air and on the ground,” said James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways in a statement.